Thursday, March 24, 2011

The tree of life

If as some have suggested that Death was a natural part of life before the fall and somehow different from death after the fall then the cultural mandate of Marriage from Gen 1:28 would have presupposed death. Which would undermine your argument. Yes?
By The Space Bishop on Is there sex in heaven?

No. That oversimplifies the issue.

i) Adam and Eve were naturally mortal. Naturally liable to death. (I don’t find Turretin’s denial exegetically tenable.)

ii) But that doesn’t mean Adam would automatically die of old age at 930 had he never sinned.

iii) The death of Adam is explicitly penal in character: a punishment for transgressing the prohibition.

iv) This isn’t hard to harmonize. Before they fell, Adam and Eve had access to the tree of life. They had the opportunity to become immortal at any time prior to their downfall.

Ironically, they ignored the tree of life, which was permitted, and chose instead to partake the tree of knowledge, which was forbidden. As a result, they lost the opportunity to partake the tree of life. By ignoring what was permitted, and doing what was forbidden, what was hitherto permitted became forbidden. By taking for granted the gift of immortality which was available to them, death became the default penalty for their transgression.

v) This also raises counterfactual conjectures about the fate of their posterity had they honored the prohibition and partaken the tree of life. The text doesn’t furnish sufficient information to wax dogmatic on that score. But if we choose to speculate, then either the consequent immortality of Adam would be transmitted to his posterity, or else his posterity would be naturally susceptible to death, yet also have access to the tree of life. 


  1. Question:

    Where do we get the idea that Adam & Eve weren't eating from the Tree of Life prior to the Fall?

    It would seem to me that whatever happened pre-Fall, the Fall and it's resulting curse trumped everything.

    God wanted them out so they wouldn't eat of the Tree of Life, post-fall, but I'm not sure that the idea that they hadn't pre-Fall necessarily follows.

    It would seem to me that, had pre-Fall Life-tree-eating would have made them immortal, then God would've made both off-limits to avoid having an immortal Adam eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

    I suppose the other option is that the Tree of Life would've ushered them (and us with them) into that eternal, sinless state to which we are looking forward. But I don't see that in the text anywhere.

  2. I was going to ask the same questions Daryl did. What he didn't ask is whether it's possible Adam and Eve were eating of the Tree of Life prior to the Fall and that rather than granting them "immortality", it replenished their youth such that, so long as they kept eating of the Tree of Life they wouldn't die. Since after the Fall they were barred from access to the Tree of Life, they could no longer eat of it's fruit. Which meant, they would then naturally and eventually die. Is this an exegetical possibility?

  3. I too don't see any exegetical basis for saying that Adam and Eve did not eat of the Tree of Life prior to the Fall. God's specific command in Gen.3:16 was that 'from "any" tree of the garden you may eat freely'. What part does God's curse play here? Was 'dying', 'death', part of God's curse as a result of Adam and Eve eating of the Tree of Knowledge? I believe it was. As a result of their disobedience, God instituted the Curse, fulfilling the warning he had given to Adam in Gen. 3:17 that eating of the tree of knowledge 'dying he would die'.

  4. There was no command to eat from the tree of life. Rather, there was permission. There's a rudimentary distinction between permission and prescription.

  5. Sure, but in contrast Gen.3:17 is in command imperative form, "not" to eat of the tree of knowledge. If Adam was given 'permission' to eat of "any" tree of the garden freely, "except" the tree of knowledge, then aren't we purely speculating that he "didn't" eat of the tree of life? Where do you exegetically draw your conclusions that he didn't eat of the tree of life?

  6. Actually Steve, I'm not sure I'm willing quite yet to concede that Gen. 3:16 is 'permission', and not part of an overall command structure that entails both Gen. 3:16 and Gen. 3:17. Verse 16 even uses the word 'commanded': "And the LORD God commanded the man saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely'.

    I don't see how you draw your conclusion that it was 'permission'.

  7. Correction, my references to Gen.3:16 and 3:17 should be Gen. 2:16 and Gen. 2:17.

    Note also the conversation with Eve and Satan in Gen. 3: 1-3. Eve confirms that they may eat freely of any of the fruit of the trees of the garden "except" the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, for God has said, (her version of 2:17) 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'

    By inference since the Tree of Life was first mentioned in 2:9 as also being in the midst of the garden, her reference in 3:2 would also include the tree of life.